In the latest blow to “consensus”, Dr. Ivar Giaever, a Nobel Laureate, has resigned from the American Physical Society over the group’s position on global warming. His resignation letter minces no words:
Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I can not live with the statement below:
“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”
In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.
That’s his emphasis, not mine.
Dr. Giaever’s resignation doesn’t come out of the blue. Fox News reports that he was one of the cosigners of the 2009 letter to President Obama, along with over 100 other scientists, dissenting against the assertion of consensus.
I wrote about the cult of consensus at RedState last year. The point of my post was that it is not only false to state that the case is closed on anthropogenic global warming, it was directly counter to the spirit of scientific inquiry to suppose that it would be, or even to suggest that consensus equals truth. In any other research field, such a claim would be considered preposterous, if not downright heretical.
The news of Dr. Giaever’s resignation comes on the heels of another blow to the notion of “incontrovertible evidence” this past July. A study published in the journal Remote Sensing (PDF) highlights several discrepancies in previously relied-upon data. From the Tuscon Citizen:
Data from NASA’s Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to “believe.”
The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.
The previously unexplained differences between model-based forecasts of rapid global warming and meteorological data showing a slower rate of warming have been the source of often contentious debate and controversy for more than two decades.
“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”
Get that? Climate forecasts are warming “substantially faster” than the actual atmosphere. This is a significant problem for modeling.
What does this add up to? Well for one thing, the evidence that there is a global scientific consensus that man is causing catastrophic climate change, and that we have accurately mapped, modeled, and predicted it, is incontrovertibly false. As I cataloged in my post last year, there are a number of discrepancies that are yet to be addressed. And as evidenced by Dr. Giaever’s resignation, there is clearly not a consensus, not that that should matter in the first place.
We should respect Dr. Giaever for the courage to continue to ask questions, to demand rigor, to insist upon research, and above all, to stand with courage of conviction. We must all do the same. The drastic socioeconomic sacrifices the Al Gore crowd would have us endure, and the devastating fallout those sacrifices would entail, require it. Inasmuch as the greenies would have us believe that we must act NOW lest we see dire consequences, we must remain cautious, as rash actions could result in even more devastating outcomes.
There is no consensus. The evidence is not incontrovertible. Of that much, and that much alone, can we be completely certain.